Time to steal the time? Apple borrows Swiss Clock’s image [updated]

There’s been a lot of interpretation of Steve Jobs when he referenced Picasso and his quote of “good artists copy, great artists steal”. Its been discussed before on our podcast (which by now most of you are listening to), and the general sentiment is that Jobs meant take the inspiration of that idea and use it to spur you to create something more than the original. Take the case of the clock app.

It looks awfully like the clock used by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), but in this case Apple has taken the basic image and went on from there to… Well it seems that they saw a good idea and used it. I mean, that’s only smart, right? Who wouldn’t?

The SBB have announced that they’re attempting to come to an “amicable agreement” to resolve the issue, having reached out to the Swiss and German branches of Apple’s public relations office.

“We are proud that this icon of clock design is being used by a globally successful company” Reto Kormann told The Associated Press, but he noted that Apple hadn’t asked for permission before doing so.

“We’ve approached Apple and told them that the rights for this clock belong to us,” the spokesman quoted.

If an agreement is not reached, presumably in the form of a license fee, the next logical step would see Apple back in court. Yet Again. Although this is may not be the avenue the SBB would prefer, if it doesn’t defend its patent now, it will forfeit the right to defend it against anyone else deciding to use it under the concept of laches, which loosely translates to “use it or lose it”.


The SSB has now posted an update to this saga, making it one of the quickest possible patent cases we’ve seen in a while from the mobile space. The Swiss Federal Railways has released a statement announcing they’ve reached a licencing deal agreement. As usual in these cases, they’ve not disclosed the amount Apple has paid, but it looks like the iconic look will be here to stay on future iPhones.


SBB and close from Apple license agreement.

The Swiss Federal Railways SBB and Apple have reached an agreement on the use of the SBB station clock on devices like iPad and iPhone. That the two parties have governed in a license agreement.

For the use of the SBB station clock on devices like iPad and iPhone, the Swiss Federal Railways SBB and Apple have agreed and signed a license agreement. The parties have agreed to give the amount of the license fee as well as other details about the Convention any further information.

The Railway station clock was built in 1944 by engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker designed for SBB.It is a design icon, obvious matters in the digital age well. Special feature of the so-called “scoop dial” is the striking red second hand, which has the form of a signal trowel. To date, she is a symbol of innovation and reliability is an important identifying feature of the SBB and Switzerland represents

Sources, The Verge, Yahoo News, Swiss Federal Railways.